PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Eligible Virginia families can now apply for federal funds to help them pay their outstanding heating and cooling bills.

The funds are from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that stems from the American Rescue Plan passed last year. $100 million will be distributed this year as part of a five-year, $500 million investment in the program.

Eligible households can receive benefits for heating, cooling, and crisis assistance, weatherization, budget counseling, and/or other vital services to help achieve safe and healthy indoor air quality and temperature.

“Millions of working families are experiencing unusually high heating and cooling costs, and it is important that we provide them with the support they need,” said Secretary Becerra. “I will continue to work with President Biden to protect the health and well-being of all families in need and help lower their energy bills.” 

In addition, the Biden-Harris administration previously appropriated funds to LIHEAP twice in the past year. In March 2021, Congress more than doubled the annual amount of LIHEAP funding – appropriating $4.5 billion in supplemental funding through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Six months later, in September 2021, Congress appropriated $3.7 billion in annual LIHEAP funding through the Continuing Resolution.

Officials say that investment of nearly $8 billion over a 12-month period is the largest distribution of funds over a 12-month period since LIHEAP was established in 1981.

“As American families continue to grapple with global inflation caused by the pandemic, this investment will help families afford energy costs and stay warm, safe and healthy this winter,” said Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03).

Virginia was awarded a total of nearly $182 million.

To find out where you can apply for LIHEAP Energy Assistance, visit their state and territory contact map. Interested applicants can also look for local providers.